New Delhi: Mani Shankar Aiyar, an Iran gas
pipeline advocate whose removal as Petroleum Minister in 2006
had been linked to alleged US pressure in leaked diplomatic
cables, on Tuesday said he was not surprised when he was relieved
"at the first opportunity" of the "temporary charge".
"I was told explicitly that it was a temporary charge. I
thought I will be there (Petroleum Ministry) for a week or
two. It turned out to be 20 months. So it is not surprising
that at the first opportunity when the reshuffle took place I
was relieved of my temporary charge," the Congress leader said
when asked about the secret US diplomatic cables released by
whistleblower website Wikileaks.
Asked whether there was any US influence on Cabinet
reshuffle, Aiyar said, "How would I know. I was given
temporary charge of Oil Ministry."
However, Aiyar said that even after reshuffle he was
part of the Cabinet.
"I was part of the government at that time. Even after
the reshuffle I was not thrown out of the government, I
remained in the government," Aiyar told reporters outside
Petroleum Ministry was taken from Aiyar and given to
Congress MP Murli Deora during the UPA cabinet reshuffle in
CPI-M members in Rajya Sabha today raised the issue about
the diplomatic cables in which then US Ambassador to India
David C Mulford reportedly described change in the Petroleum
portfolio as a "determination to ensure that US-India
relations continue to move ahead rapidly".